Serious Fiscal Responsibility Questions Raised regarding 150 Celebrations

Also at last night’s council meeting James Crosty requested an audit of the 150 celebration finances. James inquired as to how an initial budget of approx. $386,000 could balloon to over $1 Million. Neither council nor staff seemed prepared to offer any suggestions on how this happened.
We certainly know how to throw a party, don’t we?

Mr. Crosty has now provided us with a copy of the comments he made before council. See below.

James Crosty has provided us with the delegation that he presented before council on Monday. Included in his comments is a handy history of the issue.

Here is a copy of the delegation by James Crosty to city council:
December 13, 2010

Good evening Mayor, council members of city staff and residents of New Westminster

I am here to ask Mayor and council how a budget that was approved for $174,162.44 after grant reductions ballooned to over $1,013,000.00 when you include in kind expenses for the 150th Birthday Celebrations in New Westminster. How can the city justify a 500% increase over the initial budget submitted and approved by council on January 19th 2009?

Further I would ask that council request an full internal accounting audit on the final cost of the 150 Celebrations including a breakdown of in kind expensed items, who provided the in kind items, details on city staff time and wages incurred for the 150 Celebrations, income generated from events and number of tickets sold and number of people that attended these events, clothing income and expense details and finally an explanation from the committee as to why this celebration went over budget.

I ask for this review not to criticize the organizers’ of the 150 Celebrations because I know they worked hard and I even attended some of the events it was an exciting time. I ask for this information to ensure that this kind of over spending will never occur again. You may remember 2009 was a tough year for many of our not for profit organizations with Provincial cutbacks and city funding. Yet here is our own city having expensed $838,000 more than the budget allowed when many not for profit groups had to cut back or go without. If I am correct in my calculations then the issue here is fiscal mismanagement of tax dollars. I believe it is incumbent upon our Mayor and Council to request a review of the 150 Celebration expenses in order for the people of New Westminster to fully understand these costs.

150 Celebration Review (background):

January 19th, 2009 (minutes of council) – Budget presented and Option B was approved for $374,162.44

it was noted in the minutes that “direction was given for staff to endeavor to reduce the budget by actively pursuing partnerships, donation and sponsorships. The director agreed to report back with greater budget detail as event planning progresses”.
It is noted in the budget that application had been made for a $200,000 grant from Ministry of Canadian Heritage – Building Communities through Arts & Heritage. This was not included in the budget at the time as it was an application only. As noted in the direction to staff this would reduce the city’s cost for 150 Celebrations to $174,162.44
A grant for $20,000 from BC 150th Heritage Legacy Fund was included then reduced in the budget. Further an in kind contribution of $10,000 was included in the budget towards venue rental. This should have been accounted for as in kind and not formed part of the budget cost.
I have been unable to locate any further information regarding any update.

March 23rd, 2009 (minutes of council) – Budget increased by $14,980 plus GST to allow for a publication of 500 books of poetry by Don Benson. I note that this motion was not approved by everyone with Councilor McIntosh opposed.
Total budget now $389,142.44 (Less $200,000 for the Heritage Grant).
Noted in these minutes was a reference that the 150th Celebration Operating Budget was deleted from Parks and Recreation budget and would be funded from Reserves.
April 20th, 2009 (minutes of council) – A motion to provide the two poet laureates honorariums of $500.ea was approved by council in reference to the commemorative book for a total of $1,000.
Final Budget would be $390,142.44 (less $200,000 from the grant application).
According to the staff report (DOC#149682) December 13th.
Budget as indicated is $386,000.00
Grant BC Heritage Foundation $20,000 included and expensed in the budget
Grant for $200,000.00 was received from Heritage Canada (not used to offset expenses)
Total cash expenses for 150 Celebrations $ 586,000.00
Total in kind expenses for 150 Celebration $ 427,000.00
In Kind offering are usually obtained to offset expenses.
Total expense for 150 Celebrations $1,013,000.00

By the minutes of council the expenses of the 150 Celebration as approved should have been $390,142.44 less $200,000.00 or $190,142.44 **
**should be less $10,000 from Massey in kind as well as ticket & clothing sales which are unknown

Since there is no account for income or Massey savings it can be estimated the expenses would be even larger than the reported cost of $1,013,000.00.
James Crosty,

See the following links for more on this story.

21 thoughts on “Serious Fiscal Responsibility Questions Raised regarding 150 Celebrations

  1. James
    150 Celebration was a good thing for New West, however it seemed to drag on far beyond the budget and the expectations of the average citizen.
    It is about time taxpayers demand fiscal responsibility and accountability. If council and staff can’t hold the line on spending and salaries I guess it will be up to the abused taxpayers to make sure they do. Keep up the good work. There are many relying on someone to stand up to this group.

  2. $1M. for the same core of 50 people mostly the mayor’s backers. An ongoing self congratulatory political party for people many of whom have been in one way associated with the Mayor’s inner circle, his funders and supporters. The excess of this group is truly staggering, including the “grant” to his campaign manager.
    When will the MSM pick up on this colossal waste?
    With some exceptions, the whole committee and Boards structure in N.W is a parking lot for the Mayor’s supporters.
    Does anybody care?

  3. Compare the money that has been spent by the city communication department in the last 5 years. Very disturbing trend here. There should be an audit. The city clerk should not be congratulating here he should questioning.

  4. Downtown Taxpayer.
    I do! I agree with you, however, his circle is shrinking.

    I have 40 years in Transportation and was turned down for the Transportation committee.

    I have good understanding of crime with my involvement with the CPC and as a crime fighter on 12th Street. (through our West End Business Association). I was turned down for the Police board while a personal friend and the wife of a key staffer was chosen.

    I have 30 years in busuiness and was turned down for the new Economic Developement advisory Committee.

    I was going to apply for the traffic Committee this year, however, my chances are once again slim! It appears I did not vote correctly in the last decade.

    No problem though! The Dissatified taxpayers are forming a much larger circle and will be closing in no matter how many spins they get in the taxpayer funded newspaper.

    Check out the story today as the spin claims we are coming out of a recession and in the same article thinks nothing of almost 3 million increase in Salaries and Wages. I guess the unions approved that during their input in the budget. If they want truth in budget reviews they should consult with businesses, not the fox who gaurds the chickens.

  5. Council has just reported that we can expect a 4.87% tax hike for 2011. Gee, I wonder why??? Maybe its also time to hack some dead beat employees too. Like our Business Development and Arts Managers. That would give us $250,000 of unearned wages!!!

  6. Interesting comments in the Record today. Wright claims it is a disservice to questions how much money was spent and where it went as just baloney. How disrespectful can a Mayor get about questions on spending taxpayers dollars – especially on a party. Harper claims “flawed logic” and goes on to say $647,000.00 offset the city’s expenses for the party, now we should really be worried about how they do the math.
    This was the Mayor’s appointed committee where is the audit he claims was done? I did go in and ask how it all worked and he could not and still has not explained the math! Why was this audit not part of the report to council and who is the one really hiding the baloney!

  7. In addition to the losses, there were several events that were “papered”.
    This term generally means that tickets were bought from other city budgets, and then the tickets were given away to make it look like the event was a success.
    You can never find where the money came from, because it is all hidden on other departments, e.g., Police, Fire etc.

  8. To be honest I think this is Crosty blowing a whistle without having really figured out the facts. Sure they’re over budget. Is it as much as Crosty’s suggesting ? I don’t think so. Page’s LSD is the best managed department in the city. If you really want to look at blown budgets there are 3 other departments that lead the city rat pack. The insider is right, you’ll never find it all.

  9. I ask that you go to the following link and do your own investigation on the budget that was approved vs the reported cost to council on Dec 13th.

    Option B was approved along with a request from council to offset the budget with grants and in kind contributions and failure to do that. This is more an indication of Wright’s leadership, overseeing a committee he hand picked in 2008 and living within a budget approved by council. It is not about and employee of New Westminster.

  10. Plain and simple, these folks down at city hall are right out of control. They need to be stopped before they bankrupt this city.

  11. They are coming after some more of your money with yet another big property tax hike. It is a good thing there is an election around the corner. Mistake big mistake!

  12. We can only conclude that based on the formula applied to the 150 Celebration spending you can expect the Pier Park Project to come in at 1/3 the size and at an expense of 75 million. Don’t expect there to be money for infrastructure like schools, Canada Games Pool and Convention Centers (I mean Civic Centers).

    It is obvious that no one is monitoring our municipal performance through accurate responsible reporting. There are obviously poor internal performance measures. Hasn’t anyone in city hall heard of “Budget to Actual” accounting?

    They have given out irresponsible raises this term and hired unqualified, unproven and overpriced managers who have yet to produce anything close to what we are paying them. When our Mayor and Council were elected for their three year term they knew what the pay was. Any raises given to them should be applied to their next term, if re-elected.

    Whose idea was it to hire a party planner to orchestrate a large civic event? Oh yah, it was Wayne’s! And according to the city’s report we got some cake, balloons, kid’s tattoos and a tea party! I guess that’s what you would expect from a party planner.

    There is this historical pattern in New Westminster were planning for the future is someone else’s problem. We have seen it with the old school board (Pre-Voice) and now with the long reign of our current Mayor and some of the councilors (past and present). It is obvious that “Wright is the Wrong” person to be fiscally accountable for our tax money. Once again, there is no accountability or transparency. It is time for the people of this city to speak loud and strong this November 2011.

  13. Maybe the city could plant some money trees in the new Peir Park to pay for all this. It’s just not Wright! Which city officials and staff were on this so called party commitee, they need to be held accountable before they do it again.

  14. Sorry James, I think your off the mark on this one. The way I figure things you’ve counted the heritage grant twice

    the city “loaned” 200k cash expenses, because the grant came in payments. And then you add it to the 427k in kind expenses, which includes the 200k the city received in payments. So the way I count things, total costs associated was around 813k. I wouldn’t be surprised that the 20k grant is also on both sides and was counted twice so that brings it down to 793k.

  15. Looks like the final number was less than $200,000 total cost to the city (as calculated by the city, the federal government and the Record).

    Why make sense when you can just make things up? go on, just make it up! Write a letter to the paper! Repeat. Harangue council in person! Repeat! Pass out torches and pitchforks. Repeat!

    hey, keep repeating, it might sound true!

  16. Will, there appears to be a snarky tone virus running rampant across New Westminster’s blogs at the moment. Hopefully, it will be like the seasonal flu and quickly blow over. You are forgiven. 😉

  17. Hey Will,
    An apology, yet a jab with the
    ” when in Rome” thing.
    It doesn’t matter what the source, it still boils down to a million bucks of taxpayers money for some questionable goings on. The usual friends insiders and supporters thing. Some good events, but also the usual skanky stuff with this bunch. Also, very questionable accounting.

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